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Convicted Terrorist Jose Padilla Resentenced to 21 Years

By William Peacock, Esq. on September 10, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Well, it took 'em, what, three and a half years to finish interrogating him in a Navy brig? It's unsurprising, then, that nearly three years after the Eleventh Circuit rejected his previous sentence as too lenient, Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen-turned-terrorist affiliate (and alleged dirty bomb plotter), finally knows his fate: 21 years behind bars.

Thanks to that ruling, he did not get credit for the years of "harsh treatment" or torture he endured while locked up in the brig, without access to an attorney. However, the 21-year sentence is still below the guidelines, something that could draw the Eleventh Circuit's attention once again.

Previously, at the 11th Circuit...

In September 2011, the Eleventh Circuit rejected Jose Padilla's original sentence of 17 years, calling him a likely recidivist due to his 17 prior arrests, a murder conviction, his former membership in the "Latin Kings" gang, and his multiple connections to terrorist groups.

The Eleventh Circuit noted that it had previously rejected recidivism reasoning to justify downward departures for certain classes of criminals. Padilla, convicted of supporting terrorist groups, was just that -- a likely recidivist, the court held.

"Padilla poses a heightened risk of future dangerousness due to his al-Qaeda training. He is far more sophisticated than an individual convicted of an ordinary street crime," the majority held.

The court also rejected credit that Padilla was afforded for the time spent in pre-trial custody in a Naval brig in South Carolina.

This Time: 21 Years

U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke, who handed down the rejected sentence, returned to the case Tuesday, stating that she was still "dismayed by the harshness of Mr. Padilla's prior confinement," reports The Associated Press.

Interestingly enough, while the new 21-year sentence is more harsh than the previous one, it barely covers the rejected credit for time spent in the brig.

Prosecutors sought a 30-year term, while the Eleventh Circuit previously pointed to the 12-years-below-the-minimum departure as a sticking point.

Will four years do the trick? Or will the Eleventh Circuit reject this sentence as well?

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